What shocked the censors! (1933)

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sole aim of eliminating objectionable fractions? Would the quality of films be improved by this method. Or, would public taste be enhanced? Obviously not, since this is nothing more than a challenge to the producers to find ways of circumventing the censor. "The trouble I have with the idea of censorship", writes Bishop Francis J. McConnell, "is that formal censorship puts the seal of official approval on what is left after the censor has done his work. Anyone who reads the exci- sions made by censors feels that the cutting is wholly of superficial. The fundamental conception of the theme may be wrong. To say of a bad play that it is passed by the Board of Censors after deletions puts sanction on what remains. The good done by the excision does not outweigh the evil done by what at least appears to be found approved." Reasoning in this fashion, is it not always advisable to refrain from making public pronouncements concerning that which is presumed to be "bad"? In any case, the entire logic related to this phase of the problem seems to point, first of all, to the necessary lack of explicit standards, and second, to the ineffectiveness of a negative enforcement of such standards where they are fictitiously assumed to exist. Do Motion Pictures Promote "Good" or "Bad" Behavior? The answer to our second query is not so simple. Certainly, every stimulus to which an individual responds is potentially an influence in his later conduct. Motion pictures most certainly do not present to their audiences a desirable mode of life. Their chief defect, however, does not lie in over-stressing reality but rather in their lack of realism. Or, to use a colloquial term, the movies furnish a "phoney" picture of experience, an unreal portrayal. Th':• is true even in those instances where the pretense is wholly in the direction of a realistic theme. Approximately 90% of that which the censors find objection- able in motion pictures relates to Sex, Crime, or Violence. These are realistic themes, especially in a civilization still dominated by the Puritan conception of sex and by the Mid-Victorian fantasy of romance; a civilization in which acquisitive- ness and competitiveness are the predominating traits of the successful; a civilization in which human life has always been held to be less sacred tha property. It is not surprising that motion picture producers exploit these topics. They also furnish the headlines for the daily press. In a society based upon positive human values Sex would still have a position of merit but in this case Sex would be treated as health, not as an annex to profit and com- merce. Crime and Violence would, of course, drop to the level of sheer nega- tiveness in such a society. But, we cannot blame the producers for the choice of their themes; these are vivid and graphic items in our culture. If the press is to be free to publish articles and print pictures which may be classified under the categories of Sex, Crime, and Violence, why is such freedom to be withdrawn or restricted in the case of motion pictures?